Netanyahu said worried Trump peace plan could hurt Likud in elections

Report: PM plans to ask White House to delay release of talks proposal until after national vote held

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a ceremony at the Foreign Ministry to celebrate the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem, May 13, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a ceremony at the Foreign Ministry to celebrate the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem, May 13, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

With the Trump administration’s plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace expected to be rolled out in the coming months, there is growing concern in the Prime Minister’s Office that its release could hurt the ruling Likud party’s electoral prospects in the upcoming national elections, Israeli TV reported Saturday.

According to Hadashot news, the White House is pushing to release its plan possibly as early as the start of December despite the growing possibility in Israel of the government’s collapse and the scheduling of early elections.

The TV report, which quoted unnamed Israeli officials, said the US plan has been finalized and President Donald Trump’s peace team is currently hashing out the final details on how it will be presented.

Though the specific proposals in the plan have been closely guarded by the US, the TV report said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s camp believes its release could hurt his Likud party in elections, with Trump and his envoys having previously said both sides will need to make compromises.

In light of this, Netanyahu is planning to reach out to the White House to try and push back the publication of the peace proposal until after elections, according to Hadashot TV.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with US President Donald Trump following a lunch at the Elysee Palace in Paris on November 11, 2018. (Courtesy)

The report said Jared Kushner, the US president’s son-in-law and point man on Israeli-Palestinian peace, has privately indicated in the past that the plan’s release might be pushed back if Israel was in the midst of an election campaign.

Netanyahu’s office told the network in response to the report that the prime minister’s sole concern vis-a-vis the US peace plan is Israel’s security.

“The prime minister doesn’t know when the American plan will be presented, and when it is, the only factor he will take into consideration is the national interest, first and foremost the security of Israel,” his office said.

The report came as Netanyahu’s government appeared on the verge of collapsing, likely spelling the moving up of the next Knesset elections, before their scheduled date in November 2019.

The coalition crisis was sparked by the resignation of Avigdor Liberman as defense minister in response to the end a military flareup between Israel and Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip.

Trump has yet to reveal a date for the announcement of his peace plan but said during a meeting with Netanyahu in September he hoped to release it within two to four months.

In addition to the increasing political uncertainty in Israel, the White House must also factor in how the peace plan will be received by the Palestinian Authority, whose president, Mahmoud Abbas, has boycotted the Trump administration since its recognition last December of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and vowed to oppose the “deal of the century.”

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